I just had my second baby two months ago and it was a bit of a rough delivery. My little one came out at lightning speed-less than two hours flat from start to finish, kind of like the extreme sports version of labor- and though I did Kegel exercises throughout my pregnancy, my baby's quick entrance into the world did some major damage to my pelvic floor. At about 5 weeks postpartum I was diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse (my bladder & my urethra, hurray!), I think it's a stage 2. I'm lucky to have a great doctor who recommended pelvic floor physical therapy right away. I've started and it's been very helpful, but I miss traditional exercise. I used to run and do power yoga before and I'm feeling really down not being able to get up and get out and exercise. I would love to just lace up my running shoes and go for a nice easy jog, but I know from my physical therapist that that's out of the question right now (and maybe always?! Say it isn't so!) as are plank & chaturanga. So no power yoga then. I know I need to take it easy, but I really would like to do something to have an outlet and feel more like myself again, but I don't want to make the prolapse worse. I also would really like to get back into running one day because I miss the feeling of freedom that comes with it. I never realized that until I thought it might be gone. Do you have any advice?
First of all, you are the mother of two children, and a kickass athlete who doesn’t want to be told she can’t do something for a while. YES!
Your second degree pelvic organ prolapse (for those of you who don’t know what that is, it is when your bladder and other pelvic organs, like your uterus, are minimally supported and beginning to fall down to the opening of your vagina) is no different or no less serious than any other surgery or condition that sidelines you for an extended period of time. However, unlike a broken leg that is now in a cast, you can’t see or feel the injury that is inside you which makes it very difficult to respect your body and give yourself time to heal.
That is what you need: time to heal. Time to do your pelvic floor exercises and get your vagina stronger than ever. Trust me on this - if you do not rest during this time you are never going to get better and could risk a lifetime of problems. Running isn’t going anywhere either. Will you be able to run one day again? Sure! But not if you don’t take this injury very, very seriously. I understand you miss the freedom that a pair of running shoes provides you but there are so many other things you can do right now to give yourself that same feeling like getting lost on a long walk somewhere. Being an ex-marathoner myself (hopefully one day I remove the “ex” from that) I have learned to love walking and some days I walk for hours. Or get into a pool and swim. Not a swimmer? Then sign up for a masters’ program and learn how to be one. Sometimes injuries and adversity are great opportunities to learn a new skill.
There is also your upper body. Buy some dumbbells, an exercise band, and a mat and get sweaty with the upper half of your body. And who says you can’t squat and lunge too? Just no jumping or other high impact activities. Talk to your physiotherapist and ask for guidance on what movements you are allowed to do right now and then get creative. Find some space in a room where you can throw on some loud music, and lose yourself. I know it is not the same as running but if you embrace something new and give it a chance you may surprise yourself.
Just be patient with yourself and kind to your body. Remember, even though you can’t see, or really feel, the injury that is inside you, you are injured. Don’t push yourself too fast too quickly, because if you do you will lose any chance of being able to run again. And when you do find yourself sad and missing your runs, or your power yoga classes, just think of how amazing it is going to feel when you get to do it again. Look at it as a gift! You said it yourself, right? You didn’t realize how much you loved running until you couldn’t anymore.